CCIM's new president reflects on his Louisiana roots.
In 1994, Richard E. Juge, CCIM, CIPS, SIOR, 2010 CCIM Institute president and lifelong New Orleans area resident, saw a chance to set up shop in his hometown. Acting on a tip from a CCIM friend, Juge opened his first Re/Max franchise office in Metairie, La., a New Orleans suburb. The Big Easy’s steady market was a familiar fit for Juge, who can trace his family’s local roots back to the early 1800s. “I drive past properties every day that I’ve seen my whole life,” he says. “Now I know who owns them, what they cost, and who might want to buy or lease them.”
Juge’s intimate market knowledge paid off during his business’ formative years. He earned awards for the largest commercial office leases in 1997, 2000, 2001, and 2002, in addition to being recognized for his role in negotiating the area’s largest special-purpose transaction in 1998. During this time, Juge also served as a CCIM instructor and the CCIM Louisiana Chapter president. “I enjoyed the networking,” he says. “These were professionals who I wanted to hang around and learn from.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the CCIM network opened its doors to Juge and his family. A CCIM friend in Houston temporarily housed them, and many others offered to assist. “I found out that the institute is more than just networking, education, and technology,” Juge explains. “It’s a family of people who care.”
Hurricane Katrina also marked a turning point for the once-calm New Orleans commercial real estate climate. “During the last few years, we’ve had an incredibly dynamic market,” Juge says. A flurry of property sales, leasing, and development opportunities greeted Juge and other real estate professionals when they returned to help rebuild the area after the storm. In his first post-Katrina project, Juge negotiated the lease that put CNN in a major downtown office building, where the network based its Peabody Award-winning coverage of the recovery effort.
As New Orleans rebuilt, Juge continued to expand his business. After opening a second Re/Max office in Mandeville, La., he won the 2006 award for the largest industrial lease from the Commercial Investment Division of the New Orleans Metro Association. Re/Max also recognized him as a top 10 agent in Louisiana in 2006, 2007, and 2008, and he received the company’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 as well as the Distinguished Service Award in 2007. Juge credits his CCIM training, in part, for his success: “The designation has meant more to me in my professional life than anything,” he says. “Not just the core courses, but the sales training, the meetings — everything.”
Juge recognizes the widespread apprehension about the industry’s prospects in 2010, but he also knows from experience that turmoil can breed opportunity. “I started working in commercial real estate in 1988, at the age of 22, during New Orleans’ worst economic downturn to date,” he explains. “I can’t think of a better time [than now] for young professionals to enter the industry. It’s going to be a ride to the top for the next 20 years.